need to step up fight against corruption


Corruption no doubt is one of the major cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of our national lives, it is responsible for the underdevelopment of our nation as resources meant for development are brazenly looted by few shylock individual.
Example abounds on how some greedy Nigerians have cornered and looted our resources. The ones that readily comes to mind are the $180 million Halliburton scam, $4.5 billion fuel subsidy probe scam, $16 billion power probe, and N32.8billion pension scam to mention but a few.
The implication of all this gargantuan corruption is that majority of Nigerians are at the receiving end as money meant for importation of fuel, provision of services and payment of pension benefits to the retirees that have put in their productive years in the service of our fatherland are diverted and pocketed.
The Transparency International (TI) in its 2012 CPI report corroborated this fact when it stated that “corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or healthcare. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds. Corruption amounts to a dirty tax, and the poor and most vulnerable are its primary victims”
The theme of this year’s anti-corruption day tagged “ACT: HELP DETECT CORRUPTION RISKS TODAY” is very apt. For a corrupt-free Nigeria, Nigerians must not be docile on issues of corruption; they must act as whistle blower, detect areas that are prone to corruption and promptly report any act of corruption to the anti-graft agencies for necessary action.
It was in recognition of the fact that corruption is a global phenomenon, that the General Assembly of the United Nations by its resolution 58/4 of 31st October, 2003 at its Headquarters in New York set aside 9th December of every year as International Anti-Corruption Day in order to raise awareness about corruption menace and the role of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
The Convention states inter alia:
The United Nations is: “Concerned about the seriousness of problems and threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law”
The Convention equally gave delegates the power to:
“Promote and strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively… promote, facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance in the prevention of and fight against corruption …and promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property…”
On this day the world over, various activities lined up to mark the day include:
I. Musicals and plays to publicize the message of fighting against corruption.
II. Essay competitions on corruption
III. Keynote speeches by people who are victims of corruption or those who are in the fore front of leading the fight against the menace and;
IV. The dissemination of posters, flyers and other corruption enlightenment and education materials.
Nigeria as one of the signatories to the Convention which she signed on 9th December, 2003 and ratified on 14th December, 2004 respectively is not left out in this international occasion as various event at raising the consciousness of Nigerians on the ills of the vice and ways at tackling them enunciated.
Meanwhile, the recent rating by the Berlin based Transparency International (TI) in its 2012 annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report where it rated Nigeria 139 out of 176 countries though not cheering, should not be seen as an indictment but as a catalyst to prompt government as well as propel the anti-graft agencies and all Nigerians to show serious commitment to the crusade against corruption.
As opined by TI Chairperson Huguette Labelle during the report: “Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision-making. Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people,”
“After a year of focus on corruption, we expect governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 results demonstrate that societies continue to pay the high cost of corruption,”
From the foregoing, it is clear that fighting corruption should go beyond window-dressing and sloganeering, government must demonstrate the political will to tackle this hydra-headed monster head on.
The fight against corruption as succinctly captured in this year theme makes it imperative that the crusade is a holistic battle as such, all hands must be on deck to urgently uproot this cankerworm form our nation.
The way forward: I urge Members of the National Assembly to sharpen their oversight function so as to check the disbursement of money appropriated for infrastructures and to ensure that such funds are used for the purpose which they are budgeted for.
The media as the fourth estate of the realm should live up to their responsibility by holding government and public officials accountable.
All Nigerians should take advantage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to demand for accountability and transparency at all times by unmasking all act of corruption. This I believe will no doubt make leaders to be more accountable to Nigerians bearing in mind that their activities are no longer shrouded in secrecy.
The NGOs and Civil Societies should partner with the anti-graft agencies in the area of advocacies, sensitization and mass mobilization of the citizens on and against corruption.
It is imperative that government consider the call for the setting up of a Tribunal or a Special Anti-Corruption Court to handle corruption cases as the delay in our courts nowadays owing to frequent adjournment does not augur well for the fight against corruption. Justice delayed, they say; is justice denied.
On the part of government, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, NEITI and EFCC should be adequately funded to enable them carry out their mandate effectively, this is even more so as the recent lamentation by the EFCC Chairman Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde on the poor funding of the Commission. Also, the disclosure on NTA Live programme by the ICPC Chairman Barr.Nta Ekpo that the anti-graft agencies in the country are grossly under staffed in a country of about 167 million population in view of their enormous work that involved criss-crossing all the nooks and crannies of the country to investigate corruption cases need to be addressed because fighting corruption is not a joke, it is capital intensive, requires a lot of expertise and energy sapping.
The government must not interference with the operation of the anti-graft agencies in the course of doing their job so that they can discharge their duties without fear or favour no matter whose ox is gored.
As opined by TI Chairperson Huguette Labelle during the 2012 CPI report:
“Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision-making. Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people,”
The Judiciary as a matter of fact has a very crucial role to play in the fight against corruption by ensuring speedy dispensation of justice because what Nigerians want is how quick cases bordering on corruption are handled and not the present snail’s speed of cases due to unnecessary adjournment.
The ICPC and EFCC must be commended for their relentless effort at leading the crusade against corruption since their establishment.
Nonetheless, there is room for improvement and as we step into year 2013, it is hoped that the two agencies will re-double their efforts for the onerous task of eradicating corruption from our nation.
For a better coordination in the fight against corruption the ICPC, EFCC, Code of Conduct Bureau, NEITI and other law enforcement agencies in the country should synergize as well as work in harmony in the fight against corruption to ensure a better result.
All Nigerians must see the fight against corruption as a collective fight; all hands must be on deck to ensure that the incidences of corruption are reduced to the barest minimum in our country. If we allow this cankerworm to continue unabated our dreams of joining the most industrialized world by the year 2020 and even beyond will be a mirage and the future of our youths and generations yet unborn will be in jeopardy.
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world today to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day, this is calling on Nigerians to say “NO” to Corruption as our “NO” indeed “COUNTS”
“There is enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed”
Corruption Must Go!
COMRADE AMEH, is a Public Affairs Analyst, an Anti-Corruption Crusader.


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